Monday, February 14, 2011

The Writers' Open Mic Night

One of the regular events at the Northern Colorado Writers Studio is the monthly Open Mic Night where five or six writers get to read eight minutes worth of their work and get silent feedback from an audience.

The silent critique process takes two minutes at the end of each reading, and comments are written on file cards. At the end of the readings, cards are sorted and distributed so the readers can review the instant reactions to their presentations. We leave time at the end of the evening to chat, discuss the authors' work, and, of course, have refreshments.

I try to comment on the overall content of the piece as well as the presentation, and I strive to identify the main strength of the piece. Sometimes I will mention something that needs work, but I always try to present that "criticism" in a supportive and positive way. The idea here is to nurture and encourage writers at all levels.

So far, I've read once, and attended all but one as a listener. Friday night was especially interesting because two teen writers were brave enough to read to us. And now the Open Mic Night leaders have extended an invitation to the NCW Teen Writers Critique Group to provide us with a full slate of readers in April.

Young writers are fresh and exciting, and they are no more or less nervous to read in front of a group of strangers than the rest of us. The two young ladies who presented Friday night were so charming, and their work interesting and unique. They reminded me of the end of NaNoWriMo party I attended in 2009 where nearly half of the participants who completed their 50,000 words were teens (most of them writing fantasy).

If you've never attended an Open Mic Night for authors, consider working with your local writers' organization, public library, or a coffee shop to get one started. And when you do, don't forget to invite the teen writers in your community. You'll be so glad you did.

And Happy Valentine's Day, too. I wish you roses, chocolate, and much love.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - What a great idea - Open Mic night! Thanks for sharing that. I used to participate in events like that for music, when I performed. But it really does translate to writing. That's a terrific kind of event. And thanks for the Valentine's Day wishes. I wish you a wonderful day, too.

Terry Odell said...

Interesting. SleuthFest does this, but after going to the first one, I learned that I am NOT an auditory person. I absolutely lose track of what's being said; my mind wanders when a phrase triggers a thought. I guess that's why I don't have any audio books, although given how long it takes to drive anywhere from where we live, I was considering giving it another go.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a fun evening! I always love hearing what younger writers are up to...I'll have to see if there are these kinds of events in the area.

Karen Walker said...

Sending you hugs and virtual chocolate

Mary Vaughn said...

Who knew -- Open mike for writers. What a great idea. Hope yours went well.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never attended an open mic night. And I just saw a review of your book on Clarissa's blog!

Clarissa Draper said...

I would feel so nervous getting up in front of an audience and reading my work.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

To me nothing is scarier than getting up in front of people I don’t know and reading something I have written, so I admire everyone who does it. I have attended an open mike event for writers and thoroughly enjoyed myself, but then they moved it to a less convenient place. I need to see if I can find others in different locations. I like the idea of using note cards.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, everyone. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Margot -- I was also surprised it worked so well for writers. I'm going to read to the group in May. It will be my second time, and I'll be trying out a brand new short story.

Hi Terry -- I'm not really an auditory person either, so I have to focus. That's why I only like critique groups that submit their reads in advance so I can see and read the work myself.

Elizabeth -- it is fun, especially when the younguns read.

Karen -- a big hug back to you (and thanks for the chocolate. I love chocolate).

Mary -- Thanks!

Alex -- I appreciate the heads-up. I'll head over now.

Hi Clarissa -- coming over to visit in just a minute.

Jane -- I've done readings at booksigning events and enjoyed them. There really is something more intimidating about the Open Mic Night, however, so I'm really pleased the teens were willing to give it a try.

The Old Silly said...

I think that's a great idea ... might just have to look into doing something like that around here.

Lynda Young said...

I don't think there is anything like it in my area. How cool though. I love the idea.

Ella said...

Pat, I love this idea and I love you being supportive! I admire anyone who can do this and face the good n' bad critique. Wishing you a
Happy Valentine's Day~

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like a great idea!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Marvin, if you get the event going, you'll be very glad you did. It's worth the effort.

Lynda -- it is cool...and fun.

Ella -- it's not easy, especially when your audience is all strangers. Makes me really appreciate stand-up comedians!

Hi Eagle. Why not give it a try in your town?

Holly Ruggiero said...

That's sounds great but also so scary...

Patricia Stoltey said...

That what our two teens said, Holly, but they did a great job anyway.